December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)
I have a feeling a number of these entries are going to be about my daughter, the first one was, and this one will be too. I am going to talk about the moment during and right after my daughter was born.
Abigail was born inside of an operating room in the maternity ward at Park Nicollet Methodist Hospital in St Louis Park. My wife Katie was prepped and ready to go for a c-section due to Abby being breech. I came in when they were ready to go. I'm squeamish in hospital settings, especially when blood is involved. There was a large white sheet covering so all I could see was Katie's head. Anesthesiology assistant told me not to look above the sheets. Later learned that Katie told her to say that, and I could have looked. Probably good that I didn't. It didn't take long once I was in the room. Doctor went in and baby came out. Katie had a look of sheer terror on her face when they were going in and I was doing my best to be supportive. The doctor held Abby up above the sheet, a little bit of blood dripped onto the sheet below Katie's head. The sterile smell of the room surrounds us as we smiled at each other. Abby was immediately whisked away to be cleaned off and checked up and I went with her while they sewed Katie back up.
Into the next room. I'm staring at my beautiful baby girl under the heat lamps while two nurses attend to her, getting the stuff out of her nose and airways, cleaning up her skin, and having her do a bit of light but still piercing cry. The vocals work and we can breathe! Crying! A very joyous sound on a baby just exiting the womb. Her eyes still haven't opened yet. One of the nurses asks me if I want to trim the cord, and if I want a picture. It's then that I realize that no pictures have been taken yet. Abby's first picture is taken of me trimming the cord. The nurses measure her and weigh her, and I put my first diaper on her (literally never having done so before, I needed a little primer from the nurse). This has happened, this is real, and its just me and her right now. Been waiting months and months for this (By the way, I'm getting teary just writing this now, 7 months later).
The camera comes out again and I shoot a video while the nurses are cleaning up, and her eyes open while I'm doing that, for the first time. I'm probably the first (fuzzy) thing my daughter ever saw. I'll always have that, I suppose (wish it would've been my wife). That video was shown multiple times to my wife afterward, and I'm proud that I captured her first "eyes open" moment.
We're whisked away to the baby nursery after a few more minutes - I'm under strict wife orders to stay with Abigail until she can be re-united with her mother. More tests. First sign that there might be troubles pop up - her pulse-ox is slightly low and her blood sugar levels are low as well. Katie and I were very gung ho about breastfeeding, but the nurses are already suggesting bottle feeding with formula to get her sugar levels back up. I don't know how to handle that and everything gets a little crazy inside my head while I try to figure this out. People are coming and going all around me in the typical zoo that a mid-day baby nursery at a major hospital tends to be. One of the nurses can sense that I'm struggling with this and suggests that I go consult Katie, who's now back in a recovery room. I do that, but she's still too out of it to really have much to say about it but gives the ok to supplement.
We try cup feeding since I didn't want to use the bottle - I had heard so many things about nipple confusion and staying away from the bottle. That seems to work, though this little baby in my arms barely knows what to do with it. Nurses check the pulse-ox again and find it's still low and decide to take her to the intensive care nursery. They are careful to tell me it's just a pre-caution and that she'll get better care there. It's right down the hall. I go back to tell Katie this and by that time, her dad has arrived, very anxious to see his new granddaughter. We went back to intensive care. It's now been some length of time since she was born, and Katie still hasn't held her yet.
Finally, all-clear happens and Katie is reunited with Abby. Things settle in and we get used to life as parents.
I'll never, ever forget this day.